The Social Media Conundrum
By now, you all know how hugely helpful social media can be for any artist.
But you are also well aware of the downside to being so available online.
As actors, you’ve been told repeatedly that you MUST have a social media presence. The more followers, likes, views, retweets, etc., the better. It is an exhausting time suck, and yet completely exhilarating when a post goes viral, a Casting Director comments on your video, or a favorite celebrity follows you back.
The social media conundrum is that we all CRAVE more connections, but the more eyes we have on our posts, the less privacy (and time) we have, and the greater the chances of it going all wrong.
Below are a basic set of rules to follow when looking to create an active social media presence:
Who is your audience? If this goes viral, how will it impact you (good and bad)? Is it unnecessarily mean/harsh/posted in rage/haste? Did you research the topic you’re posting on? Did you fully read the article you’re re-posting (and double-check the published date?) Neglecting to consider these questions (and more) could result in emotional pain, embarrassment or worse, for you and/or the subject of your post.
For example: Just as one of my shows was premiering, an actor who was a Facebook friend posted about how he hated said new show. The comments were filled with other people snarking their agreement. Of course, EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion (it is art, after all,) and it wasn’t remotely a personal attack on me or anyone else affiliated with the show… but I saw it. It was in my timeline; I couldn’t miss it. And while that hasn’t stopped me from working with the original post-er of that thread, I still remember it many years later. (And frankly, it still bums me out.)
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.
You do not need to curate your Instagram to look like Emma Watson’s. You do not need to tweet the way Sarah Cooper does. Honor YOUR unique perspective, your voice, your communication style.
Actors will often be told exactly how they should post online. But if that’s not your communication style or how you like to make connections online, there is no need to put yourself in an uncomfortable position. Here’s your test: before you post or DM, are you feeling nervous, embarrassed or weird? Follow that instinct and adjust as needed.
SOME CASTING DIRECTOR’S DON’T LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA.
Everyone is different. Some CD’s may welcome you to DM them or tag them, others will hate it. Some of us prefer to use our social media for personal things, others are a mix. Do a little research before you engage with a Casting Director on any platform.
Story time: On Twitter, an actor posted their clip and @-ed like 10 of us Casting Directors. One of the Casting Directors, who is very active on Twitter, wrote back “Is this how we’re doing things now? I hate it.” Just because a CD uses their social media platform does not mean they like to receive actor materials in that space. My DMs are impossible to keep up with and I don’t mind being tagged in things on Instagram, but I really don’t love it on Twitter. Again… one size does not fit all. Do a little digging on the person you’re trying to communicate with; it may be incredibly clear from their other posts how they feel about those interactions.
Want to use your profile to uplift a candidate or issue? Want to write a long thread on your wonderful grandmother? GO FOR IT. It is YOUR platform. Use your voice and be passionate. Understand, however, that not everyone will agree with you, so keep Rule #1 in mind, too.
THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU POST AN IMAGE OR CLIP.
You’re putting these things out ON THE INTERNET. They may become fair game for people to grab and use. Remember that before you post video of your work, pic of your latest art piece, or photos of other people (especially kids that aren’t yours.) Make sure you have permission from the people in your pic, don’t post anything that you signed an NDA for, and be aware of copyrights.
CREATE A PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNT.
If you’d rather have a private account so you can post pictures of your family to users you know, then have a separate private and professional account. If you decide to have professional accounts on multiple platforms, have the username be consistent. If it’s meant to promote your business and work, consistency will help us find you.
For example, I’m @ericabreamcast on both Insta and Twitter. This makes my life easier (not having to remember which handle is which,) and if people google my username, both platforms come up. Easy for me and my audience.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Social media can be an AMAZING tool to connect with others in the industry. It can also be a dark place, a time suck, and a distraction from being present with friends and family. If you choose not to be on social media, THAT’S FINE. If you choose to only have one platform… TOTALLY COOL. If you choose to have profiles but only to follow/gain information, not to post, THAT’S ALL GOOD TOO! If you feel your social media time is taking away from the time spent on your craft, GO ON A SOCIAL MEDIA HIATUS!
The good news is that (for the most part,) the massive wave of casting social media “stars” has passed. It’s not gone entirely, but it has become clear over the years that a lot of those wonderful social media entertainers are not necessarily theatrically trained. (Some are! But most are not.) And after multiple reports of people buying followers, a lot of producers don’t let that number have too much sway.
Do some projects care that you have some sort of social media presence? Sure. If a project is lower budget and your high follower number provides some easy, cheap publicity, that’s a win. But not every project is like that. And if you book a huge project, they’ll likely make you join some sort of social media for promotional purposes and then you’ll gain followers organically.
Whatever you choose to do, actors, be MINDFUL of what you are putting out onto the interwebs.
Not every studio, producer or CD will care about what you post on social media. But some will. And as we’ve all seen, it’s very easy to dredge up old posts. So before you hit TWEET/SEND/POST, ask yourself this: would you say these things to someone’s face? If you’re not brave enough to speak the words you type in a real-life setting, then think twice about posting it online.